Australian fossil fuel companies will lose billions of dollars through divestment and litigation for climate damages over the coming decade, according to environmental author and founder of 350.org Bill McKibben .
“Globally, the fossil fuel industry is on the brink. Its social licence has expired and its profits are waning,” McKibben said at the start of a national Australian tour today.
“Around the world, we are seeing the start of its spiral into history as communities choose to invest elsewhere, and demand the fossil fuel industry be held accountable for the devastation it has wrecked on the environment.
“Like tobacco and asbestos, the fossil fuel industry is being forced to pay for the damage it does. It’s happening in New York, and San Francisco and it’s going to happen here in Australia.”
350.org played a role in New York’s decision this year to divest billions of dollars from its pension funds away from fossil fuels, and sue five of the biggest fossil fuel companies in the world for the cost of preparing the city for the impacts of climate change.
“The next phase of global campaigning against fossil fuels is happening and it’s all about stopping the money. By uniting, communities can wield a powerful influence over their local governments and superannuation funds, demanding that no more money goes to support dirty energy,” McKibben said.
“That means no support for new fossil fuel projects anywhere, and driving the transition to a 100 per cent renewable energy future. It’s not only possible, it’s essential to protect the climate.”
McKibben said the federal government’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG) would hold Australia back, and will only delay the transition to 100 per cent renewable power.
“The National Energy Guarantee is a terrible compromise to the powerful climate deniers in the Australian government. Its proposed target to cut pollution from Australia’s electricity supply is woefully inadequate. It would lock the country into polluting coal and leave clean energy out in the cold,” he said.
“Australia desperately needs a national climate change and energy policy that replaces coal with clean energy, makes deep cuts to planet-warming pollution and sets Australia on a pathway to net zero pollution. The NEG currently fails these critical tests.”